17 Things We Learned About Jim Carrey From “Inside the Actor’s Studio”

1. James Lipton wanted Jim Carrey from the very beginning, 17 years ago, extending his first invitation to Carrey. But he only showed up this week for a sit-down on Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio.

So. What else did we learn about him now that we didn't learn then?

2. He knows how to make an entrance. Or, he knows to always open big. Also could have accepted he likes to jog across the stage, and if he sees stairs, he'll climb them to wave to the already-standing crowd, notice the big screen behind him and pet it gently.

3. He didn't know that the original more French Canadian version of his family name means "square." "Does it really?" "Yes, what a misnomer!" "Wow. I didn't know that. Fantastic."

4. In school, he was so much of a class clown, that one teacher figured out how to channel his energies by giving him an incentive: If he focused on schoolwork and didn't disrupt others, she'd give him 15 minutes at the end of the day to perform. "So I spent all my free time coming up with routines, and impressions of the principal, and I would make fun of people."

5. His father lost his job at 51, when Jim was 12. And the family lived in a car briefly and became janitors.

6. He left school on his 16th birthday and "I immediately went to a comedy club." He said he failed so bad they went on the mic and bellowed "totally boring" at the Toronto Yuk Yuk's. He said the same thing happened when he attempted The Comedy Store at 19. "I thought I was going to be the man of a thousand faces. I got up to 150." He does James Dean. And now James Dean on botox. He showed that Fire Marshal Bill, his famous In Living Color, did not require much makeup, folding his upper lip and contorting his face immediately to show how he did it.

7. Speaking of faces, here he is in an online-only video talking about how mere subtle changes to his face resulted in dramatic differences for some of his onscreen characters.


8. For Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Carrey said he called Anthony Hopkins and found that his method was similar to Anthony Hopkins for Hannibal Lecter. In that they both based their characters on birds. Carrey modeled Ace Ventura off a tropical bird. Like a parrot? Even his hair, he said, was bird-like. He said Hopkins based Hannibal on a cross between a crocodile and a tarantula.


9. He remains as rubbery as ever, it would seem. Lipton said one of the first things that amazed him about Carrey was that he was so flexible, he could play his leg like a guitar. Which Carrey then demonstrated he still can do now. As a righty. In case you wondered.

10. For The Mask, it wasn't a mask but green makeup on his face. You knew that. But what did Carrey think about it? "Yeah, that kind of makeup is hard. It's difficult. That's the kind of like the thing I'd love to share with people, that it's much more than just acting. You've got to transcend whatever bullshit is going on around you at the time, and actually make a performance happen. That's really the work of acting. I call it distracting. I always feel like, you know, acting schools should do scene work, get them to a certain level of excellence, and then bring the scene up while I throw tennis balls at your head, and let's see how you do."

11. One of the reasons Dumb and Dumber worked as a movie was because Carrey was paired with an actor instead of a second comedian. He said comedians who read with him tried to score points, while Jeff Daniels looked to connect in the scene. And after the film opened, he heard from Dustin Hoffman, who told him "it was one of the realest relationships, friend-relationships he had ever seen in a movie."

12. The Truman Show was a seminal moment for him, not just doing it, but also when he felt like it was happening to him in real-life. "I have had to risk losing popularity, risk losing people's acceptance, in order to do something that's close to my heart, and that I think is meaningful. For me, that movie is about that. It's about,  at some point, you have to divorce yourself from the things that other people want from you."

13. You've heard or read about Carrey disappearing into the role of Andy Kaufman for Man on the Moon. Here's how he explained it to Lipton. Carrey: "I wasn't on that movie. I never showed up. I was never present on that film." Lipton: "You mean you, Jim Carrey." Carrey: "Nowhere to be found. When I auditioned for it, when they said, 'You're Andy Kaufman,' something happened to me. Something occurred to me. I went: I'm not Andy Kaufman. Andy is Andy Kaufman. Andy's coming back to do this movie. Andy's alive again and he's doing this movie. Fuck me as an actor. Andy's alive. I will let him do what he would do with this movie. So that's what happened."

14. On doing I Love You Philip Morris, Carrey: "Again, lucky to do something that's a little bit different. I don't ever want to be nailed down. I want to tell stories. I want to tell a wide range of stories and be able to look back someday and go, 'Wow. That was someone really original. Really different. And I still haven't done what I want to do." Lipton: "You know what that is?" Carrey: "Yeah. Explode into a ball of light."

15. Speaking of original and different, here is how Carrey responded when an acting student asked him about working with a rhino in Ace Ventura. Roll it!


16. You may have heard that Carrey wrote himself a $10 million check years before he was earning that kind of money. He said he did that in 1990 and put a date of Thanksgiving 1995 on the check. "I gave myself five years…I put the check in my father's pocket in his casket, because it was his dream, too, and he followed me the whole time, and it was a completion of that. He saw The Mask. He saw what was happening to me. I felt like it was his as well."

17. How does he get by? Not just with boing. "Just this: an insane belief in my own ability to manifest things. Insane belief. I think it's ultimately complete sanity. But I believe we're creators. And I believe we create with every thought. And every word. Every moment is pregnant with the next moment of your life. This is a fantastic journey you're on. It really is. I mean, I've been challenged by it. It's been really difficult at times, but ultimately, it's the last place we'll be able to tell the truth. And that's what your job is. Ultimately. Whether you do it in an abstract way or in a real way, your job is to to tell the truth about humanity. Playwrights: You're the people who will allow us to speak the truth. And we get to express it. It's a fantastic thing. So I wish you all the best with it, really."

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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